Beautiful New Zealand

Kia ora! So we (Dearie and I) recently spent almost two weeks in New Zealand   It's my third trip and Dearie's second within the last several years. And we still haven't lost our fondness and affection for the country. We enjoyed every bit of the trip and our stay, despite it being the middle of their winter. It was cold (by their standards, at least) but nowhere near our coldest months in the Rockies.  We were weather shocked though on the first two days, having just left the States where it was the middle of Summer with hot temperatures of between 90 and 100 degrees. For the rest of our stay, it was rather pleasant.

Reuniting and catching up with families - on
both sides - was one of the highlights.  But we can't discount the unique offerings of the land of the All Blacks and of the tailless bird. NZ is the closest thing to visiting Samoa - at least in terms of the people and the food.  And for those two alone, I can travel to NZ anytime.  We do however have some pet peeves about the country, like ubiquitous roundabouts and traffic lights, narrow road lanes, small cars, driving on the "wrong" side instead of the right side (lol!), lack of free wi-fi, etc.  But those are minor dislikes compared to our many likes and delights.

We looove the foods. Seafood like fresh oysters and mussels. Poly/Samoan foods were a big draw for us.  The kekepua'a (pork buns) that we got at one of the bakeries (I think in Otahuhu) were the bomb!  I mean, with the first bite, it transfixed me back to my Leifiifi and Samco years in Apia when the kekepua'a was the legit and kosher after school snack. And a kekepua'a is not complete without a faguigu lapo'a (large bottle of soft drink), so, yeess, I bought one.

Ice cream always tops our list when in NZ.  We mentioned to my brother how we loved their ice cream on our previous visits and so he was kind enough to take us to this (apparently quite popular) ice cream place in a town called Pokeno. We drove through some backroads in a town called Pukekohe and the way to Pokeno was a treat in itself.  This was outside the Auckland metropolis. It was the countryside with lush and green scenery and farmlands. It's always my kind of place. Light rain and scattered drizzles fell which enhanced the freshness of the air and the verdure of the area. It was beautiful.  The ice cream shop in a small town setting again reminded me of a village store in Samoa. We bought some fish-n-chips (another top of the list item) for lunch and then indulged in ice cream after.

The children walking home in their school uniforms was nostalgic. At a Polynesian store (one of many), a few students were huddling to pool some change to buy pagikeke (round pancakes) for an after school snack. It again reminded me of when I was a student in Apia and how some school buddies and I used to hang out at the market in Savalalo with its many stalls selling  pancakes of different colors.  The vendors used food coloring to promote the color - and hopefully the flavor and taste - of their commodity. Tapping the top of the sefe (safe/cabinet) by the seller and calling "pagikeke kama/keige" (buy some pancakes sir/ma'am) was the usual risible sales beckon.

We enjoyed our trip to be with our Mom one last time!  Thank you everyone for your love and generosity.

Tino pai. Ka kite ano!

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